Why Every Professional Should Consider Blogging

I often argue that professionals should share their knowledge online via blogging.

The catch is that virtually anything worthwhile in life takes time and effort, and blogging is not an exception to this statement. So before committing your energy to such an endeavor, you may rightfully stop and wonder what’s in it for you. Is blogging really worth it?

In this article, I briefly illustrate some of the main benefits that directly derive from running a technical blog.

1. Blogging can improve your communication skills

Communication and writing, much like programming, are skills honed through countless hours of practice. As you work hard at articulating your thoughts into words, you’ll find that the process ends up improving your ability to express yourself. And communication is key, almost regardless of your profession.

Over time, you’ll become a faster and better technical writer, who’s able to come up with an insightful essay or tutorial in just an hour or two.

Even better, you’ll be able to concisely formulate confusing or undefined thoughts into exact words. Vague thoughts that you considered in your head will either prove to be valid and gain strength throughout the process of formalizing them into words, or quickly fall apart as flawed ideas once you see them on the screen.

This habit will make you not only a better communicator, but also a better, clearer thinker.

2. Blogging can improve your technical skills

One of the most successful learning technique I know is to try to teach what you’re currently learning yourself to other people.

The process of explaining something to others quickly solidifies your knowledge and outlines its shortcomings, exposing your own doubts about the material you’re studying. This is why writing down and paraphrasing a book, something bright student often do, is a powerful technique that helps retain and clarify your understanding of the information you’re gathering.

As a blogger, you are likely to improve your technical skills because you are forced to research further topics in order to properly share them with the public. You might be corrected by commenters who know more about the subject than you do, and learn a lot from them in the process. As well you may learn more as others expand on what you had to say within their blogs, or perhaps force you to answer more questions about the topic than you thought about in the first place.

As I mentioned in my book, blogging is just as much as teaching as it is about starting a conversation. These conversations will often help increase your expertise and well-roundedness.

The collaborative power of blogging was truly highlighted and pushed to the limit by the Fields medalist Professor Timothy Gowers with his Polymath Project, in which his blog and commenting section was used to figure out unsolved mathematical problems collaboratively.

3. Blogging can provide you with a repository for your knowledge

Some people like to use personal wikis for this purpose, but blogging can be an excellent way to keep track of information you intend to retrieve at a later stage. For example many programmers use their own old posts to find particular snippets of code, the exact steps to configure a server, or a given URL for a useful service they blogged about.

At times you’ll find that googling for a given problem will bring up an article from your own blog that you may very well have forgotten about. (And if that post doesn’t solve your problem, you can curse your past self for not providing more details back when you wrote it.)

Looking back at your old posts is also a great way to keep track of progress, and have access to a timeline of what you were dealing with, thinking, and doing at a given moment in the past. It’s fun to look back once in a while and introspect about how far you’ve come. This can often provide you with glimpses of insight about where your career and professional interests are headed.

4. Blogging can help make powerful connections

Technical blogging injects you into an online community of fellow professionals who are passionate about the topic they are writing about. If you are contributing valuable information and insight, and link to others, you’ll likely end up on the radar of these people, and ultimately connect with other world class players in your field.

Blogging is certainly cheaper than flying across the world non-stop to meet all these folks at expensive conferences (though blogging is not a substitute for in-person human interaction).

Society functions through people interacting, connecting, and networking. How you use this opportunity is up to you, but it can definitely be a boost for your career, business, or even life in general to be in touch with other experts in the field of your choice.

5. Blogging can help you make friends

Even better than powerful acquaintances are friends. As a prominent blogger you’ll get to meet and interact with a wealth of people online. If you’re social and available to others, you’ll end up making friends (influential and less influential ones alike) online.

I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve come to know thanks to my technical blogs.

Sometimes it’s a case of someone who comments often and you get to know them better through this route. Other times it is a fellow blogger. Often, it’s someone who noticed you through your blog and gets in touch via email. If you are fairly popular in your field, you may even get the occasional ego boosting, “Oh, I follow your blog” when introducing yourself at meetups or trade conferences.

6. Blogging can provide you with a second income

Most bloggers live under the false assumption that you can’t make serious money from running a blog on the side. They understand that if you dedicate yourself full-time, there is money to be made, but they severely underestimate how much revenue you can generate with just a couple of hours of your time per week. They’ve tried or heard horror stories from people making mere pennies with AdSense, and assume that they can’t monetize their own blog unless they’re really famous.

A few hundred dollars a month from your blog is absolutely within the reach of any professional out there. If you do everything right, and put in the work required, your blog can even make you thousands of dollars, both directly and indirectly.

My technical blogs make me a few thousand dollars every month, and I often end up not touching them for weeks at the time. Blogging is not passive income, but if you know what you are doing, all the content you produce compounds and ends up providing you with a substantial income – even when you neglect the blog for a few weeks or months at a time.

Blogging can provide you with some serious extra income that you can then use to finance your hobby, buy gadgets, pay off debt, or do whatever else you desire. It’s a really nice feeling to receive a few extra checks each month, and it will further motivate you to continue blogging.

In my book I cover in great detail how I go about monetizing my blogs, but I’ll also talk more about this subject on this site (subscribe via feed or email if you’d like to be notified of such future articles).

7. Blogging can score you freebies

Publishers and PR firms have become aware of the influence bloggers have on targeted audiences. Even as a mildly successful blogger, you can expect to be contacted by a multitude of people offering you freebies. Depending on your niche and field, these offers will typically be for books, but it’s not uncommon to receive offers for other items, including tickets for conferences, gadgets, software, etc.

As long as you disclose your affiliation (in a way that makes the FTC happy), it’s actually very nice to routinely receive freebies of this kind. If you like what you receive, you can then blog about that product and review it for your readers.

Often, if you establish good relationships with publishers and PR firms, you can even organize giveaway contests which benefit your readers, not just yourself.

8. Blogging can advance your career

A few of the previous benefits I mentioned have already revealed how blogging can have a positive impact in your career. However, I’d like to stress just how much blogging can open certain doors for you. Every post you make is a new opportunity to get people to notice you on a professional level.

Because of my blogs, but primarily my programming one, I’ve received countless job offers over the years, including some from a selection of the largest and most sought after companies in the world. Some offered me generous relocation packages to the US, and a few went so far as to offer me the job, no questions asked (e.g., they didn’t even require a formal interview, they had sized me up enough through my blog writing).

I got my job at IBM in Canada mainly thanks to my blog (at the time I was still in Europe).

Whether blogging allows you to find a new job, customers, partners, investors, publishers who are interested in having you authoring a book, or something else entirely, it is certainly a great career booster.

In fact, my number one piece of advice for new professionals who are interested in building their careers is to start blogging today.

9. Blogging can make you popular in your field

Most professionals work hard because they want to be successful and gain recogniztion in their field. Blogging aides with that and can make small celebrities out of regular professionals. For those in the tech world, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Names like Joel Spolsky, Derek Sivers, Steve Yegge, and Scott Hanselman come to mind.

I’m reminded of Joey Roth’s “Charlatan, Martyr, Hustler” poster. If you do incredible work but nobody knows about it you are a martyr. If you accomplish nothing and do no work, but talk a sweet talk, you are a charlatan. If you can walk the walk, and talk the talk, then you are a hustler.

Blogging helps you ensure that you can talk the talk and reach the right audience, once you have walked the walk.

10. Blogging can help you reach and teach a wide audience

The number one reason to blog for many people, is the desire to share their knowledge and teach others.

For some, even in the technical realm, it’s a matter of politics. For example, an Agile development professional may actually want to influence the community and advocate his theories and ideas about the process of developing software, so that they (potentially) become widespread.

Others, may use this teaching tool to promote their technical projects. An example, also from the software development world, is blogging to help people become aware, loyal, and eventually proficient in an open source tool that you created.

 

As you can imagine, these are just some of the many benefits of blogging. As you begin creating your own blog posts, you’ll likely find that some of them fall into place organically, whereas you need to work at others. All however, stand to enrich your career and life, and help inspire you to keep blogging for years to come.

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About Antonio Cangiano

Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist for IBM, as well as a web entrepreneur, serial blogger, and published author. He makes thousands of dollars blogging in his spare time about technical topics. He recently authored a definitive blogging book published by The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and launched a new blog called Technical Blogging.

Comments

  1. Thoroughly written and inspiring. It gives me moral boost to continue blogging on what I do on hashfold.com. It’s just a beginning for me at the moment.
    Thanks Antonio

  2. Hey Antonio,

    Nice article, I agree with all your points; I’ve got a relatively young blog on game development which I’m building up gradually – I wondered if you’d tried the micro-transactions model for increasing blog revenue? I sell the source-code which accompanies my articles and it’s starting to bring in a decent amount of money by itself:

    http://www.wildbunny.co.uk/blog/2012/01/19/blog-micro-transactions-a-follow-up/

    Anyway, thanks for the article again!

    Cheers, Paul.

  3. You forgot the eleventh, I will help you:
    11. In order to become interested in technical blogging and therefore buy your book. I guess that for the American “lifestyle” it’s normal, but it is not, please, we need to stop these books: “How to become millionaire selling books to naïve people”, everyone: a little bit of common sense.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mich, and for expressing your dissent. I’m not a fan of books that promise get rich quick schemes and other fluffy feel-good common sense either. However, there is nothing wrong with how to books that happen to be about softer skills (e.g., not programming or equally technical matters).

      My book is just that. It’s an how to handbook that outlines good actionable advice and provides a road map on how to succeed at a certain task (i.e., blogging). Its content was extracted from almost a decade of blogging experience. Many experienced bloggers who’ve read it have written to say that they found lots of useful tips within its pages. My book goes far beyond common sense, even though you’ll certainly find plenty of it within any good how to book.

      Likewise, this post and blog is meant to provide useful information for free. Will it help market my book? Certainly. I practice what I preach, and blogging is an invaluable marketing tool. I’m not ashamed in the least of such a goal. But the main point for me is to share information about a topic I’m passionate about and see other people succeed.

      Preparing this article took time and energy. It was worth it because the goal is to inspire people to blog. Blogging has changed my life and can do so for others. If some of those people end up buying and enjoying my book, that’s great. But that’s not the main goal as you implied in your comment.

    • And one more:
      12: To become a traget of the disenchanted who feel that they must express their displeasure with the world on someone else’s blog.

      Mitch, Antonio’s writing is spot on. Let me validate at least one of his claims. I offered him a job and moved him from Europe to Canada as a result of his blogging. Since then, Antonio has been an invaluable member of our team.

  4. For me, blogging is part of learning model. I follow consume-produce-engage model for learning (http://goo.gl/3bp0t). I used that model to learn more about problem solving (http://goo.gl/4xhoV).

  5. This is absolutely spot-on. I’m not 100% sold on the ‘make money from blogging’ point, but I guess once your blog reaches a certain popularity level it’s inevitable.

  6. Hi Antonio, would you have any advice for a non-technical person? I personally blog about effective communication topics and issues dealing with human behavior. I look at research journals, books, and other sources and I talk about the concepts in these sources. I then apply the information to hypothetical examples that I come up with. It’s a way for me to better learn the topic while at the same time gaining indirect “experience” in some of these areas.

    How do I get myself noticed? How can I advertise myself and meet people? I have mentioned my blog in cover letters for positions that involve someone with effective communication knowledge. I also post my entries on facebook, google+, and twitter. Unfortunately, I don’t have any followers on my blog. I’ve had about 700 total views so far over 15+ posts but I really can’t seem to get much attention. I am not a working professional and I am currently looking to actually START a career. I thought a blog would help me do this while also allowing me to learn about new ideas and concepts.

    Thanks for any help you might have for me!

    • I just subscribed to your blog. So there you go, you got your first follower :-) From my experience, let me give you few thoughts:
      1. You waste a whole lot of space in the top of your blog. People nowadays suffer from attention-span and if you want me to scroll to read, you have lost me.
      2. There is no indication of how to subscribe to your blog. Blogger offers a rss subscription code. Put that out code on somewhere top. Mind you, Google chrome is a popular browser and it doesn’t display the rss subscription in its address bar like other browsers
      3. Pick a theme and continue to write. That way you know whom you are talking to. If you are all over the place in your themes, people will not be interested. It could be a generalized theme (like problem-solving that I chose).
      4. Leave plenty of (relevant) comments in other’s blog. If you do it right, that will help you with both traffic and link-building.
      Good luck
      Joseph

  7. Can you stress a little more on how one can make money out of blogging?

    • Thanks for the question, Dhruv. I will cover this topic in greater detail in future posts (and it’s worth mentioning that I do so as well in the book). But basically, there are a few ways to make money blogging. Including only sources of revenue that are directly connected to the blog (e.g., excluding income from finding a new job through your blog), in order of economical potential.

      1. Selling your own products. For example, if you have a blog focused on JavaScript, you could write and sell a guide to learning JavaScript for beginners or a book on how to optimize the performance of JavaScript. It doesn’t have to be a book only either. People sell screencasts, courses, coaching programs, merchandise (e.g., t-shirts), etc.

      2. Selling other people’s products. Less time consuming than creating your own product, affiliate marketing is an incredible source of income for bloggers. Read a great book? Review it and use your Amazon Associates id to get a small cut every time a copy is sold through your link (within 24 hours from the click). In fact, you’ll get a cut of anything they buy, not just the book you recommended in that 24 hour time window. And it’s not just books. You can review hosting, software, etc. As long as you talk about quality products and disclose your affiliation to your readers, affiliate marketing can make you serious income (most of my income comes from this source).

      3. Sponsorships. If your blog caters to a specific audience, you may be able to find companies who are willing to sponsor your blog in exchange for some form of visibility (e.g., a media buy like a banner ad in a prominent position on your site). This means that you’ll receive a monthly amount (e.g, $200) from a company that’s interested in your readers. In the JavaScript example above, a company selling a JavaScript editor, a hosting company, or a programming course might be a good fit.

      4. Ad networks. Less economically rewarding, it’s the use of an automated system for displaying contextual ads. We are talking Google AdSense here, but there are other networks to consider. In particular, if there is a network that specializes in your particular niche, then your RPM (revenue per thousand impressions of your ad) can be much higher. Either way, the key is to diversify your income strategy and not stick with just one of these revenue channels. Most bloggers fail at monetizing their blogs because they don’t attract much traffic and then try to monetize it through AdSense alone. They don’t make much as a result (and this is why AdSense is sometimes referred to as blogger welfare).

      5. Donations. Some people place donate buttons on their blogs. If you have a very loyal following and you provide plenty of value to your readers, these can give you some extra tips. It usually works best if you say something like, “Offer me a coffee” or “Buy me a beer” with a nice icon next to it, rather than flat out saying “Donate”. You may also consider micro-tipping services such as Flattr, but again you’ll generally receive only very small amounts of income from this approach. One exception to this is occasional donation drives a la Wikipedia. If you know that your blog will need $X to stay up, you can make a post and invite your readers to donate towards helping you reach that goal. Certain blogs that are well loved by their readers have made thousands of dollars in the past by going this route. Keep in mind though that this approach has to be done only very occasionally (e.g., annually) and usually needs to be justified by showing to your readers what kind of expenses your blog incurs. If you run a blog in your spare time on a $10 hosting plan, you can’t exactly ask your readers to raise $5,000 for you. These kinds of drives are also harder to justify if you are already clearly earning money from other channels such as affiliate links, sponsorships, and ad networks.

      6. Micro-revenue sharing. Services like Readability reward bloggers whose articles are often read through their service. They give you a few cents for each person who reads your articles via Readability. If your articles are very popular, and you promote Readability with buttons on your articles, this may all add up to dollars, rather than cents. In my experience however, you’d need hundreds of thousands of viewers before seeing any serious income from this channel.

      That’s the gist of it. But again, I’ll go more in detail in the future.

  8. Really useful post, it just rejuvenated my interest in blogging. Looking forward to get a copy of your book.

    • Thank you, Mohamed. Please let me know if you have any questions.

      • I have a query regarding earning through the blogs:
        – I had an adsense account which I didnt use for quite a long time, because WordPress.com didnt support adsense integration and I couldnt use my account as a result. (not sure if it allows now). And as a result my account got closed recently and also my appeal for reopening of account was rejected. I had moved to a independent hosting sometime back and have been running my blog from there. I didnt really care about displaying ads as I thought the readers wouldn’t like them.
        Are there any other options of using online advertising apart from Adsesne., but something like Adsense?
        – I use a book referral (flipkart.com) links on my blog but that’s something like 1 book in 2 or 3 months. I do have a Amazon referral as well but I dont use their links much. How do you manage your book referrals? And are there other options where one can earn from referrals?
        – As a person who would read other blog posts, how do you feel about ads being displayed. I at times get irritated when people fill thier pages with ads often making it difficult to find the actual content.

        • Are there any other options of using online advertising apart from Adsense., but something like Adsense?

          There are many options, but I’d look into AdBrite and Bidvertiser. Once you are established, you should also look into sponsorships or selling ad spots directly with something like Buy Sell Ads.

          How do you manage your book referrals? And are there other options where one can earn from referrals?

          I’m not sure what you mean by “managing” book referrals. I tend to read lots of books and then review them or write collections of links to useful books on a given topic. When people click and buy, I get a cut. Amazon Associates is an excellent earner for me, and it should work for you as well. Other than books, there are affiliate programs for virtually everything including hosting, themes, software, and all sort of services. You can look into affiliate networks like CJ and Google Affiliate Network to find products and companies that are a good fit.

          how do you feel about ads being displayed. I at times get irritated when people fill thier pages with ads often making it difficult to find the actual content.

          The secret is to not overdo it. Don’t hide your content, and don’t trick the user into clicking on something thinking it’s real content, when it’s really an ad. Have some ads, tastefully placed. At least among technical audiences, you’ll also find that those who really hate ads will often opt for ad blockers like AdBlock Plus.

          Remember also that ads are one of the least profitable forms of income for most technical bloggers. Creating your own products or selling other people’s as an affiliate is where the real money is.

  9. Thanks for the post Antonio: really interesting!

    The main (gross) benefits I can quickly see are (in order of importance): (1) skills improvement, (2) extende résumé and (3) network expansion.

  10. PRASAD BAGAREGARI says:

    This is my first day at Technical blogging.

    Thank you

  11. Good article. I started with blogging and got me interested in writing. Reading other people’s blogs and websites got me interested in the creation and evolution of technology. This in turn led to writing and publishing my first book on technology (http://theinfinitebit.wordpress.com). Bloggers can therefore make the transition to become book writers.

  12. Antonio,
    exhaustive list by you. I wanted to know this information exactly.
    Actually I had learn a lot here. Does bidvertiser has sponsors for technical blogs as well.
    most importantly I am buying your technical blogging book.
    further I am curious if they give job without interview because of blogging.
    that too in IT ?. I am a programmer with 15 years of server side java experience.
    I came here after seeing your book in pragmatic website.
    Though I have self hosted wp blog I didnt know how to proceed.
    pls reply as I believe you are a guru in technical blogging.
    thanks&regards
    vinodh

  13. Thanks Antonio for posting such as an inspiring and helpful article!

    For someone who is just starting to blog regularly and doesn’t want to launch their blog yet, which sites do you suggest contributing to?

    I’m looking for the ones that will give me the most exposure and pay the best one-time fee or recurring income.

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